Adding cinnamon to the diet may be an effective treatment for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Research results presented at the International Federation of Fertility Societies/American Society for Reproductive Medicine meeting in October 2013 showed consuming cinnamon improves the regularity of menstrual cycles.
Doctors do not yet know what causes this condition but women with PCOS suffer imbalances of female sex hormones. Hormonal imbalances may lead to changes in the menstrual cycle as well as other health issues, such as ovarian cysts and difficulty getting pregnant. In fact, PCOS is the most common cause of female infertility. PCOS may affect as many as 5 million women in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This devastating condition can strike females as young as 11 years old.
Why Cinnamon Works
Researchers think there is a link between PCOS and insulin, the hormone that helps the body use sugar. Women with PCOS tend to have high levels of insulin because they are “insulin resistant,” meaning their bodies have trouble using insulin so the hormone accumulates in the bloodstream. Excess insulin increases the level of another hormone, androgen, which then causes irregular menstrual cycles. High levels of androgen also adversely affect the development and release of eggs during ovulation.
Previous research shows that cinnamon decreases insulin resistance in women with PCOS. In the recent study, researchers from Columbia University enrolled 45 women with PCOS into the trial. Some of the participants received cinnamon while others received placebos.
Of the participants who finished the six-month trial, the women who received cinnamon had more regular menstrual cycles than did the women who received placebos. The women in the cinnamon group had an average of 3.82 menstrual cycles during the six-month period as compared to the women in the placebo group, who had an average of only 2.2 cycles during that same six-month timeframe. Two of the women reported spontaneous pregnancies during the trial, an encouraging sign for women struggling with PCOS-related infertility.
“Though small, this rather elegant study shows that cinnamon may be an effective and inexpensive treatment for PCOS patients,” said Steven T. Nakajima, MD, President of the Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility.
- International Federation of Fertility Societies (IFFS). "Cinnamon May be Effective Treatment for PCOS." AlphaGalileo. 14 Oct 2013. Web. 6 Nov 2013.
- "Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) fact sheet." WomensHealth.gov. 16 July 2012. Web. 6 Nov 2013.
- Qin, Bolin M.D., Ph.D., et al. "Cinnamon: Potential Role in the Prevention of Insulin Resistance, Metabolic Syndrome, and Type 2 Diabetes." Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology. 1 May 2010. Web. 6 Nov 2013.